Do Democrats really want a fight over transparency?

posted at 9:16 am on April 17, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Democrats launched a new attack front yesterday against Mitt Romney, pulling together this two-minute clip of media reports on Romney’s taxes, wealth, and some off-the-cuff comments about bureaucratic consolidation made to a dinner fundraiser last week in order to argue that Romney is, er … super-secretive. Democrats want to make transparency their big issue for this fall, which tells you all you need to know about how their economic arguments will be received:

Really? The DNC wants to have a fight over transparency? Apparently, the RNC is ready for it, as they also launched a new web ad after watching yet another Obama administration official take the Fifth Amendment before Congress rather than testify on their participation in yet another scandal:

And how about in other areas of transparency — say, perhaps, the critical area of the Freedom of Information Act?  Six weeks ago, Politico quoted Washington attorney Katherine Meyer, who has worked FOIA cases for over 30 years, and her assessment of the Obama administration:

“Obama is the sixth administration that’s been in office since I’ve been doing Freedom of Information Act work. … It’s kind of shocking to me to say this, but of the six, this administration is the worst on FOIA issues. The worst. There’s just no question about it,” said Katherine Meyer, a Washington lawyer who’s been filing FOIA cases since 1978. “This administration is raising one barrier after another. … It’s gotten to the point where I’m stunned — I’m really stunned.”

Meyer’s not the only person complaining, either:

Open-government advocates say some administration practices are actually undercutting Obama’s goal. Among their complaints:

• Administration lawyers are aggressively fighting FOIA requests at the agency level and in court — sometimes on Obama’s direct orders. They’ve also wielded anti-transparency arguments even bolder than those asserted by the Bush administration.

• The administration has embarked on an unprecedented wave of prosecutions of whistleblowers and alleged leakers — an effort many journalists believe is aimed at blocking national security-related stories. “There just seems to be a disconnect here. You want aggressive journalism abroad; you just don’t want it in the United States,” ABC News correspondent Jake Tapper told White House press secretary Jay Carney at a recent briefing for reporters.

• In one of those cases, the Justice Department is trying to force a New York Times reporter to identify his confidential sources and is arguing that he has no legal protection from doing so.

• Compliance with agencies’ open-government plans has been spotty, with confusing and inaccurate metrics sometimes used to assess progress. Some federal agencies are also throwing up new hurdles, such as more fees, in the path of those seeking records.

• The Office of Management and Budget has stalled for more than a year the proposals of the chief FOIA ombudsman’s office to improve governmentwide FOIA operations.

Let’s get back to tax returns to close the loop there.  While the Democratic Party attacks Romney for only disclosing two years of his tax returns, how many has their chair released?  None:

“This week millions of taxpaying Americans will fulfill their requirement of filing their tax returns by paying any and all taxes due to the federal government,” Harrington’s campaign writes. “Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz has been asking Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney to release his 2011 tax return even after Governor Romney released his 2010 tax return.”

“Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz’s request of Governor Romney to release his tax returns screams of hypocrisy, because to the best of our knowledge, Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz has never released a single tax return of her own. As a member of Congress, she is required to release a yearly ‘financial disclosure,’ this yearly disclosure is not a tax return.

“While asking for Governor Romney to release his past tax returns, and in keeping with the spirit of President Obama’s call for ‘full transparency,’ we ask Congressman Wasserman Schultz to release her own tax returns.”

There are no records of Wasserman Schultz having ever released her personal income tax returns, though, as the Harrington campaign states, members of Congress are required to disclose assets, holdings, and various other financial information.

At the end of the day, which kind of transparency will matter more to American voters — candidates who keep their returns private, or administration officials who take the Fifth and who have the worst record ever on FOIA compliance?  If Democrats want this fight, Republicans will be happy to have it.


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Why not? The Parrot Press is on their side!

KOOLAID2 on April 17, 2012 at 9:19 AM

The funniest part is the GSA dude who won’t even admit he works for the GSA; comedy gold.

Bishop on April 17, 2012 at 9:19 AM

Media/BHO
Hear no evil-see no evil-speak no evil!

KOOLAID2 on April 17, 2012 at 9:20 AM

Debbie Hyphenated-Name is used to throwing stones from her glass house, not dodging any.

The Obama Regime is about as transparent as a glass greenhouse with a steambath going on inside.

wildcat72 on April 17, 2012 at 9:22 AM

When Mitt accepts a bullshyte Transparency Award and bars the media from the ceremony, give me a shout. Until then, STFU.

rcpjr on April 17, 2012 at 9:23 AM

There’s almost nothing that the ObaMao campaign can hit Romney with that Romney can’t use to hit them back twice as hard. Transparency is one example. ObaMao’s presidency is a bad joke and there aren’t enough tricks in the bag to fool the American people all the way to November. But ObaMao and his media flunkies will certainly try…

ROMNEY 2012

cicerone on April 17, 2012 at 9:25 AM

Title “Do Democrats really want a fight over transparency?” matched to a picture of Debbie Doesn’t Do Tax Returns.

ROFLMAO!!!

Roy Rogers on April 17, 2012 at 9:25 AM

Fast & Furious.

I rest my case.

Wethal on April 17, 2012 at 9:25 AM

What’s the big deal?It was just a campaign promise.

docflash on April 17, 2012 at 9:27 AM

When this is over, Obama’s only argument will be that he has daughters, and Mitt does not, so Mitt and Ann must be against women.

What worries me is that Mitt should be 10 points ahead of Obama…and he is not.

right2bright on April 17, 2012 at 9:27 AM

Bishop on April 17, 2012 at 9:19 AM

If I’m not mistaken, if he had even answered one question, he could be compelled to answer all questions or be held in contempt. Issa played this brilliantly.

Kraken on April 17, 2012 at 9:31 AM

What worries me is that Mitt should be 10 points ahead of Obama…and he is not.

right2bright on April 17, 2012 at 9:27 AM

That’s because the American people see right through Romney’s lies.

angryed on April 17, 2012 at 9:31 AM

Open-government advocates say some administration practices are actually undercutting Obama’s goal.

Um, maybe they are misunderstanding what Dear Liar’s goal is: not to be held accountable for his own actions.

rbj on April 17, 2012 at 9:32 AM

The Repubs can win this argument if they go over the heads of the press directly to the people. Not all, certainly. Dems will always pull the switch for BHO. But the independents can understand it if the message is clearly understood.

Everyone one of Ed’s bullets needs to be discussed, over and over.

itsspideyman on April 17, 2012 at 9:33 AM

You people keep talking about F&F. But if you ever got outside the Mitt cheerleading bubble and out in the real world, you’d realize NOBODY has ever heard of it. Ask 100 people about F&F and 98 will say it’s a movie about cars. But ask those same 100 something about Mittens and they will tell you he hates poor people and loves to fire them too.

angryed on April 17, 2012 at 9:33 AM

The issue here isn’t DSW or the WH blocking FOIA requests; the issue is the media’s lapdog reaction to it. They have neither the inclination nor the will to make this a major story.

They all ran with a garbled phrase on a recorded cell phone call as proof that a guy is a racist, but WaPo tries to bury the Obamacare $340B cost increase, Tapper questions Carney lightly but it never makes it on national air, and surely not one of the network news shows will broadcast the GSA’s refusal to answer questions.

Don’t blame the administration for trying to protect their [nefarious] interests, blame the media for allowing them to.

BKeyser on April 17, 2012 at 9:34 AM

Has Debbie’s mother gone on trial yet?

mchristian on April 17, 2012 at 9:36 AM

transparency

how about that health care bill that was rammed through by democrats only behind closed doors

audiotom on April 17, 2012 at 9:36 AM

understand it if understood…. that am good english… :)

itsspideyman on April 17, 2012 at 9:37 AM

You want aggressive journalism abroad; you just don’t want it in the United States,” ABC News correspondent Jake Tapper told White House press secretary Jay Carney at a recent briefing for reporters.

To which the boy genius probably mumbled some incoherent or irrelevant talking point.

Tapper is right, the MSM so loved Obama during the last campaign and are so in the tank that the administration gets visibly upset when anybody in the media challenges them. Hence Obama’s lies about FNC calling him a Muslim.

Happy Nomad on April 17, 2012 at 9:41 AM

“While asking for Governor Romney to release his past tax returns, and in keeping with the spirit of President Obama’s call for ‘full transparency,’ we ask Congressman Wasserman Schultz to release her own tax returns.”

Reporter: Will the President call on Debbie Wasserman-Schultz to release her tax returns?

Baghdad Jay: I’m not sure that the President knows Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.

Reporter: What do you mean? She’s the Chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.

Baghdad Jay: Well, I, personally, know 3 Debbie Wasserman-Schultzs so I can’t be sure that the President knows the Debbie Wasserman-Schultz to which you are referring.

Resist We Much on April 17, 2012 at 9:43 AM

Democrats think lots of things, they actually thought passing Obamacare by any nasty means necessary would get them reelected.

Logic is always optional, for lefties.

Speakup on April 17, 2012 at 9:45 AM

Me thinks “transparency” means something else to Obama.

Using the liberal decoder ring I’ve worked up some possible alternative meanings:

“Obviously inept”
“lack of substance”
“lightweight”

BobMbx on April 17, 2012 at 9:46 AM

I love the pix you used for this. Great caption contest material.

Dingbat63 on April 17, 2012 at 9:47 AM

Don’t blame the administration for trying to protect their [nefarious] interests, blame the media for allowing them to.

BKeyser on April 17, 2012 at 9:34 AM

Spoken like Breitbart
+1000

sandspur on April 17, 2012 at 9:49 AM

Me thinks “transparency” means something else to Obama.
BobMbx on April 17, 2012 at 9:46 AM

I’m hoping on the morning of Nov 7th, he’s sipping that first cup with Moochelle and saying “wow… I never saw THAT coming”.

VietVet_Dave on April 17, 2012 at 9:55 AM

Transparency is what you want? You sure? Double sure? Okay! We will ask Nancy Pelosi and Debbie Whatshername to choose transparent clothes for the next Congress session on C-SPAN…

Disclaimer: Long on eye bleach.

Archivarix on April 17, 2012 at 9:58 AM

If Barry’s head were transparent we would see six ping pong balls rattling around in there.

NoDonkey on April 17, 2012 at 10:00 AM

I’d love to see footage of one of these boobs being asked their name and having them declare the fifth.

EMD on April 17, 2012 at 10:05 AM

The last thing Barry wants is transparency. Finding that the Emperor really has no clothes would be disturbing to many.

GarandFan on April 17, 2012 at 10:10 AM

In it’s own way, the Obama administration is the most transparent in American history: I mean, is there anyone here who doesn’t see through it?

PersonFromPorlock on April 17, 2012 at 10:12 AM

Obama’s racing for the stupid vote. The dumber the better. Even the dead will do.

tarpon on April 17, 2012 at 10:22 AM

The reason the GSA ‘dude’ did not even admit working for the GSA is that if you’re going to plead the 5th, you must plead the 5th to every question asked. To plead the 5th on some questions and not others will jeopardize your protection under the 5th as a judge can then force you to answer all questions asked. At least that is how I understand Judge Napolitano’s explanation on FOX yesterday.

Bob in VA on April 17, 2012 at 10:25 AM

You people keep talking about F&F. But if you ever got outside the Mitt cheerleading bubble and out in the real world, you’d realize NOBODY has ever heard of it. Ask 100 people about F&F and 98 will say it’s a movie about cars. But ask those same 100 something about Mittens and they will tell you he hates poor people and loves to fire them too.

angryed on April 17, 2012 at 9:33 AM

So will you be sharing the details of F&F with your “real world” friends? Start with Charles Gibson — I’m sure he’s never heard of it.

DOOF on April 17, 2012 at 10:34 AM

I’d like to know how much Blabbermouth Shultz spends on jerry curl.

Wagthatdog on April 17, 2012 at 10:42 AM

That’s because the American people see right through Romney’s lies.

angryed on April 17, 2012 at 9:31 AM

Easy on the “lies” line…it’s getting old and tiresome.
Disagree with him, but he is not a “liar”, maybe an opportunist, maybe and panderer, but enough of the “lies” theme, you are sounding too much like his ardent supporters.

right2bright on April 17, 2012 at 10:59 AM

Love the pic. It’s like she’s saying to Obama “It’s this big?!?!?”

Bitter Clinger on April 17, 2012 at 11:00 AM

If I’m not mistaken, if he had even answered one question, he could be compelled to answer all questions or be held in contempt. Issa played this brilliantly.

Kraken on April 17, 2012 at 9:31 AM

That “compulsion”, even if a court believes it exists, it unjust. The rights guaranteed by the Constitution are not subject to such semantical gymnastics. If asked a non-incriminating question, a witness, or a defendant, may choose to answer. That choice does not imply consent to then answer incriminating questions. That’s absurd. If so, the same standard would apply to a law enforcement interview. A person being interrogated, who then decided to invoke their right to silence, would be told “too late, you answered a question, now you have to answer them all”.

Freelancer on April 17, 2012 at 11:07 AM

That’s because the American people see right through Romney’s lies.

angryed on April 17, 2012 at 9:31 AM

…what a dufus! The first Liar-in-Chief evah in regards to almost every facet of the office…and we get this dufus dumb statement. Funny!

KOOLAID2 on April 17, 2012 at 11:29 AM

In the photo of Debbie Downer, all I can imagine was that she was gesturing to Obama how big of a lie she just told the MSM…

hillsoftx on April 17, 2012 at 11:30 AM

This issue deserves a full television expose.

onlineanalyst on April 17, 2012 at 11:39 AM

Please let’s do a caption contest on the photo of Debbie Downer and her leader.

Fuquay Steve on April 17, 2012 at 11:50 AM

Every time I see the MSNBC Lean Forward slogan, I think of this

blammm on April 17, 2012 at 12:03 PM

Transparency? Like, “we won’t tell you what’s in the bill til we pass it” type transparency? Like, transparency regarding the DOJ, NBP, and Fast & Furious? Transparency regarding BHO’s spending almost a million dollars to cover up his past transparency? Oh, please.

Dems wouldn’t know transparency if it jumped up and bit them in the you-knows.

sage0925 on April 17, 2012 at 12:20 PM

I’m hoping on the morning of Nov 7th, he’s sipping that first cup with Moochelle and saying “wow… I never saw THAT coming”.

VietVet_Dave on April 17, 2012 at 9:55 AM

I’m hoping on the morning of Nov 7th, Mooch is beating him like a rented mule anbd screaming about having to go back to Chicago and live amongst the unwashed….

Tenwheeler on April 17, 2012 at 1:19 PM

Every time I see the MSNBC Lean Forward slogan, I think of this

blammm on April 17, 2012 at 12:03 PM

Every time I see it I think of Barney Frank.

“My eyes! My Eyes!”

Tenwheeler on April 17, 2012 at 1:20 PM

Ed says:

Open-government advocates say some administration practices are actually undercutting Obama’s goal.

But then we have this:

Administration lawyers are aggressively fighting FOIA requests at the agency level and in court — sometimes on Obama’s direct orders

His way is the Chicago Way and intimidation is the goal so there’s no undercutting going on.

Buy Danish on April 17, 2012 at 2:05 PM

Do Democrats really want a fight over transparency?

Probably not, but a good 3rd party will.

Romney should release his taxes now instead of just before the election because, assuming there is nothing untoward, it will give the electorate months to forget about it and put it behind them. Instead Romney is taking the politically risky path by releasing them just before the election.

I think it’s because there is something in Romney’s taxes that would cost him the nomination. He want’s to lock that up first and then release his taxes down the road when it’s too late for Republicans to nominate somebody else. It is a risk that may cost him the election, but for people like Obama and Romney it’s all about them and what they want, not what’s best for the country.

FloatingRock on April 17, 2012 at 2:22 PM

…So in other words, I think Romney would rather win the nomination and lose the election than to lose the nomination and win the election.

FloatingRock on April 17, 2012 at 2:25 PM

Wow, I can sense graymatter slowly suffering necrosis just staring at that picture of Obowmao and Whatsherface. Must look away.
Now as to transparency? There is none. And the opinion of Katherine Meyer who has been pressing FOIA for 20+ years claiming that King Putt’s administration is the worst at adhering to FOIA filings will NEVER SEE THE LIGHT OF DAY.
Why?
A college prof friend (a math PhD)wrote this to me in a recent email exchange:
“You are probably unaware of the current teachings in journalism schools. They no longer teach traditional journalism as we once might have understood it, but rather “advocacy” journalism. I need not elaborate on “advocacy”, it means exactly what your worse fears think it means. That, coupled with poor scholarship, laziness on the part of new journalists, and pressure to bring in stories on time and under budget, produce tabloidish hit pieces–rather than in depth analysis and fact finding.

On the other hand, newspapers are dying and so is the TV news business. Folks, whether they realize the cause of journalistic decline, sense something is amiss and even old folk like us are getting more information via the Internet. If I have to do the work of a journalist, then I’m not supporting the rag that pays them. As I read the reports, most newspapers have declined to an audience of diehard lib’s, and any number of their readership just subscribe for ad’s anyway. Even the new younger readers are not coming in numbers sufficient to replace those of us dying off.”

It is sad when the phrase, Quis Custodiet Ipso Custodos? (Who will watch the watcher?) is meaningless.
You know they could dig up H.L. Mencken, fill his pockets with samarium cobalt magnets and wrap his coffin with 5000 turns of No. 8 copper wire and power the greater Baltimore area with the power generated by his remains spinning in his grave.

Missilengr on April 17, 2012 at 3:51 PM

If Barry bamstahhhhhh you da man bammy babyyy!!! love ya barry ol buddy ol pal !! yahhhhhhh.

No key on April 7, 2012 at 1:00 AM

cableguy615 on April 17, 2012 at 9:03 PM

Love the Photo of Wasserman Schultz slobbering all of the President at the foot of the stairs use to access AF 1.

Caption should be Ohhh, Mr President can I ride you in cockpit of AF 1 again, please. pretty please, I will get you the votes in 2012 from everyone that has ever existed in all of my State.

MSGTAS on April 18, 2012 at 10:27 AM